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Most hospital trusts have raided EU for nurses in past four years


Staffing shortages have forced more than three quarters of hospital trusts in England have actively recruited nurses from overseas over the past four years, a survey has suggested.

Spain and Portugal were the most popular destinations for teams of NHS recruiters, the research by ITV News found – echoing previous findings from a major investigation by Nursing Times.

The ITV researchers made Freedom of Information requests to England’s 160 acute hospital trusts, receiving responses from 74.

The results showed that 57 trusts – 77% of those that provided data – confirmed they had actively recruited from other European Union countries since 2010.

In addition, 50 of them, 67%, had sent a recruitment team abroad to try and attract nurses to work at their hospitals. Most had targeted Spain and Portugal, but trusts also reported seeking nurses from Ireland and Italy.

ITV claimed the survey had also revealed that 31% of nurses currently employed in England’s hospitals have non-UK nationality.

overseas nurses

Most hospital trusts have raided EU for nurses in last four years

The findings build on an investigation by Nursing Times into overseas recruitment carried out this time last year.

We found at least a third of hospital trusts in England had actively recruited from overseas in the 12 months to October 2013, as managers responded to warnings about safe staffing levels in the Francis report on care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Of the 105 acute trusts that responded to a Freedom of Information request by Nursing Times, 40 had actively recruited nurses from overseas – leading to more than 1,360 nurses coming to work in England. A further 41 trusts said they planned to actively recruit from overseas in the near future.

Nursing Times is currently repeating the investigation to gauge if the situation has changed over the past 12 months. We will publish findings next month.  

In a statement responding to the ITV figures, the Department of Health said: “Nurses recruited from abroad make a valuable contribution to patient care but they should only work in the NHS if they have the right skills.

“There are 6,300 more nurses on our wards than in 2010. Trusts are responsible for planning and recruiting their workforce and ensuring they have the appropriate levels of staff.”


Readers' comments (8)

  • a nurse manager from a trust ststed on tv that nurses from spain were as good , if not better than nurses trained in the uk, that really is helpful, in other words , british nurses are not wanted

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  • Are EU nurses subject to the same criteria that non EU nurses are i.e English language testing and now the more recently the supervisied practice?
    If not may one ask why not? As NMC states that the reason for these measures is to protect the public.

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  • So almost a third of nurses working in England are not UK nationals. You could say that that figure drives a coach and horses through the like of Roger Klines continuous argument that BME - or whatever the hideous abbreviation is - are not well represented in the NHS.

    I take my hat of to the nurses that come from abroad to work here, I know I'd certainly struggle to work in another country.

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  • The problem we have with EU and EAA nurses is that because they automatically get a PIN number operational managers think they can be 'one of the numbers' pretty much from the start. When although they are clinically competent their broader understanding on the NHS is the same as ours would be of the Spanish Health system. On paper they are given mentors but in reality often this process is poor and the retention is also poor as they become disillusioned and leave.

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  • Trevor is right. And EU nurses have their competencies in their countries not recognized in UK. At least organize trainings asap for them to upgrade their skills and use these skills on the wards. This process is so slowly!

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  • The trust I work for hasn't advertised for ages so how can it say posts cannot be filled. Goodness knows how much it costs to fly band 7s and above abroad to recruit/ stay in hotels etc.

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  • tinkerbell

    yes and to the detriment of health care provision in those countries also.

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  • Great to have skilled staff working here.

    Next time abroad + needing treatment / care,
    how long will waiting times be?
    how is staffing levels + skill mix?

    It takes time to establish excellent teams. Care needs to be taken not to waste resources building up a transient work-force, in all probably move on or return home with better skills + experiences.
    Also doesn't stop other countries poaching UK trained, skilled + experienced staff either.

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